The Creature That Ate Sheboygan! Review by David Lent
The Creature That Ate Sheboygan is an old SPI microgame from the late 1970’s where a monster emerges from Lake Michigan and attacks the city of Sheboygan, WI. In this game, you take on the role of either the monster or the humans. The monster has a victory point goal for each scenario that he must reach to win. He gets 5 VP for each civilian eliminated, 3 VP for each low building destroyed, 5 for each destroyed high building and 1VP for each combat strength point of non-civilian units killed.
This game came in both a boxed version and a ziplock microgame. I’ve used the microgame for this review. It has very simple components, like all microgames from the late 1970’s. However, it does include charts for BOTH players. That’s something not all modern wargames do.
The prices for this on eBay are high for a game that originally only cost a few dollars. I paid nearly $45.00 shipped for an unpunched copy. The copy was mint in every way and it felt like I was committing a crime when I punched out the counters of this museum quality antique game.
Before the game begins, each player gets a number of strength points they can use to customize their force. The human player gets all the civilians for free and they pay one per strength point for each non-civilian unit he purchases. The choices are police (who can fight or transport civilians), tanks, helicopters, infantry and artillery. The artillery can move slowly or be towed by tanks at a faster rate. The monster player first chooses his favorite chit for flavor. It can be a Godzilla-looking creature, giant robot, giant spider, giant sea monster, giant flying turtle or a giant gorilla. Next, he spends his points on attack strength, defense strength, building destruction strength, movement allowance and special abilities. The special abilities are very useful in this game. Some of them are fire breathing, lightning throwing, web spinning, fear immobilization, blinding light, mind control and flying. Fire breathing and flying are my favorites.
The sequence of play is:
- Monster movement
- May make up to three attempts to destroy buildings during movement. You must allocate building destruction points for each attempt.
- If the monster has fire breathing, he may attempt to start three buildings or parks on fire.
- Monster combat. The monster may divide his attack strength to attack more than one target.
- Human movement
- Human combat
- Firefighter phase. Firemen and the fireboat may attempt to put out fires.
In order to setup the game, the monster player writes down what edge he will be entering the map at. For solitaire games, I just rolled to see where the monster would enter. The human player then sets up all his units on the map.
The tactics I used when playing the monster are to move directly toward civilians, while destroying and setting fire to as many buildings as possible on the way. If I got lucky, some of the fires would spread and destroy additional buildings. Victory points are the key to winning and destroying buildings and civilians are the easiest way to get them. Of course, destroying combat units gets you victory points also but they can kill you if they gang up on you.
Whenever the monster takes damage, it must remove points from any of its strength points. As such, you get weaker each time you take damage. It’s often difficult to determine which area to take points from. If you take them from defensive strength, you will take more damage in future attacks. Taking them from attack strength will weaken you and make it harder to eliminate enemy units. If you take them from movement, you won’t be able to escape your enemies and if you take them from building destruction, you won’t be able to get any more easy victory points. You can lose the game if you don’t carefully decide what area to take damage in.
The tactics I used when playing the humans was completely different than when playing the monster. I used police cars to drive the slow moving civilians away from the monster. Humans may only stack two units in a box, but helicopters don’t count toward stacking and can add a tiny amount of firepower to your force. Tanks and artillery are very powerful and can attack the monster from a distance, while infantry attack close up. The basic idea is throw everything including the kitchen sink at the monster to try and weaken it as fast as possible. If a creature uses fire, the fire can spread. Fortunately, you get to put four fireman/fireboat units on the map right afterword. These can put out the fires before the building is destroyed. However, the monster can easily kill them, so you have to keep them away from him.
I found this game to be super easy to learn and pure fun to play. It’s fantastic when playing against an opponent and almost as good solitaire. There are five built-in scenarios and you can also make your own, so there’s plenty of re-playability. In addition, it’s a lot of fun trying to customize your monster and use different stats or abilities. Obviously, playing the monster and destroying everything in your path is more fun than playing the humans. However, this game plays quickly, so you and your opponent’s can switch sides and play again. My only complaint about this game is the rules say what r1 means on the CRT (retreat one box), but not 1r. I had to make a house rule that says 1r means eliminate one unit or monster strength point and retreat one box.
This could possibly be the most fun beer and pretzel wargame ever made. Some of the newer generation may not like the crude components, but if they can get past that they’ll fall in love with this game.
Buy your own copy here.
View the components in the unboxing video below: